Kentucky [US], July 31 (ANI): The floods in parts of eastern Kentucky have claimed the lives of atleast 25 people, including four children and are likely to increase as search and rescue operations are underway.
“The death toll in flood-stricken parts of eastern Kentucky climbed to at least 25 and will almost certainly ‘get worse’ as first responders work to account for missing residents,” CNN reported citing the state’s governor Andy Beshear on Saturday.
US President Joe Biden has declared the floods “a major disaster” and taking account of the incident, has ordered federal aid to help local rescuers.
Biden said that he is taking more action to help the affected families.
“I’m taking more action to help the families being displaced and lives lost due to the flooding in Kentucky. Today, I added Individual Assistance to the Major Disaster declaration I approved to expedite support to flooding survivors,” the US President tweeted.
Kentucky governor Andy Beshear called the recent floods the most devastating flooding in the region and said that the immediate goal is “to get as many people to safety as possible”.
“It is a really hard thing right now, with how wide the destruction is (and) areas that are impacted, to get any firm number on people that are missing,” said Beshear, urging residents to report missing persons.
The state Governor said that hundreds of people have been rescued by air and water in recent days by National Guard members from Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, as well as by officers from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and State Police, CNN reported.
Cellphone service is still out in some counties, and water systems are overwhelmed. One hospital had no water, he added.
“To everyone in Eastern Kentucky, we are going to be there for you today and in the weeks, months and years ahead. We will get through this together,” Beshear said in a tweet on Saturday.
Beshear announced at a news conference on Saturday that the confirmed deaths had occurred across five counties.
“We continue to pray for the families that have suffered an unfathomable loss, some having lost almost everyone in their household,” he said. “… That count is going to continue to go up, and we don’t lose this many people in flooding; this is a real tough one,” he said.
“It is devastating for us, especially after the western part of our state went through the worst tornado disaster we’ve ever seen just seven-and-a-half months ago,” he added.
Rescue efforts have been hindered due to power outages persisting Saturday with more than 13,000 homes and businesses remaining in the dark, as per the PowerOutage.US.
Massive floodwaters washed out homes in several counties, leaving some residents scrambling to their rooftops to escape the deadly flooding. Officials believe thousands have been affected by the storms, and efforts to rebuild some areas may take years, Beshear said.
The city of Hazard in southeastern Kentucky had seven of its nine bridges impassable, an “unheard of” number, Mayor Donald “Happy” Mobelini said on Friday morning.
Among the buildings wiped out to include a two-story church, pastor Peter Youmans told CNN Friday.
Mobelini said, “We’ve got a team of coroners here working the three-county area with cadaver dogs just trying to find people and identify people.”
“The final figure will be far higher than the official death toll of 25,” he believed following his discussions with officials in Perry, Breathitt and Knott Counties.
“It’s over the 30-some total for just our three counties, and I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg, truthfully,” Mobelini said.
The mayor said the city’s water treatment plant is completely offline, with more than 20,000 residents relying entirely on shipments of bottled water. And even after the floodwaters recede, many will not be able to rebuild, CNN reported.
Deaths have been reported in Knott, Perry, Letcher and Clay counties. Fourteen people, including four children, were confirmed dead Friday afternoon in Knott County, according to the county coroner.
Kentucky governor advised the residents to prepare for the coming days with more rains in the forecast. He told the people to be careful while trying to get to safety, “the flooding hasn’t begun to subside and swift waters can still carry people away”. (ANI)